The United States prides itself on being a democratic society. Yet even in the 2008 election, which had the highest percentage turnout in decades, more than one-third of the country’s 18-and-over population did not vote.
Assembly Bill 1436, which would allow California voter registration on Election Day, probably would not make a huge dent in that statistic. Nonetheless, it is good for voters to have that flexibility and extra time, and we urge politicians in Sacramento to make the bill law. The bill, which already passed in the Assembly and has no organizational opposition, would allow conditional voter registration as late as Election Day with provisional voting at voting offices.
California is not alone in this endeavor. There has been a nationwide surge in laws pertaining to voting. Ten states allow some form of voter registration on Election Day. Just this past November, Maine voters restored Election Day voter registration after its state Legislature banned it earlier that year.
Meanwhile, many other states have passed laws that make it more difficult for citizens to vote. For instance, eight states require official photo identification. We are glad California’s voting law could become more lenient rather than stricter.
The existing law in California requires voters to register at least 15 days prior to the election. That requirement is unnecessary and outdated. Surely, it is preferable to plan ahead of time and not wait to register on the last day, but ensuring that every person eligible to vote has an easy opportunity to register is critical.
Even though, if passed, the bill would not go into effect until after the November election — and therefore not impact Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 tax initiative — it would still undoubtedly benefit college students. College kids move away from home and may not know their address until it is too late. Perhaps they just turned 18 and had yet to register. Or maybe in the process of school and clubs and being on their own for the first time, it slipped their mind. This law helps protect the constitutional right to vote.
If the bill is passed, students and all eligible Californians who are unregistered should take advantage of the law by registering. And, of course, voting too.